How to Choose the Correct Yard Ramps

Yard ramps are designed for using a forklift to load and unload cargo from truck trailers, loading docks, platforms, rail cars, and more. They’re usually made of steel, have a weight capacity between 15,000 lbs and 30,000 lbs, have wheels for mobility and setup (allowing it to be moved with a forklift), and a mechanism to raise and lower the loading surface. Similar to a standard loading dock, some can be permanently set up as with stationary support stands so that trucks can back up to them, and some may include hand rails that allow them to be used as walk ramps into and out of trailers. Before you buy, here are a few important factors to consider:

Calculate your minimum weight capacity
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Calculate your minimum weight capacity

This can be difficult if you have multiple shifts and varying load weights, however it’s a crucial part of ensuring that your yard ramp will be up to the challenge. The low end of your ramp’s weight capacity should start at three times the weight of your heaviest forklift; or the weight of your heaviest forklift combined with the anticipated weight of your heaviest cargo. Anything above will be suitable for your needs. Discount Ramps has heavy duty yard ramp options available from 16,000 lbs. to 30,000 lbs.

Measure the width of your widest equipment and/or cargo
2

Measure the width of your widest equipment and/or cargo

To ensure that your forklift drivers have some leeway, your ramp should measure at least 15” wider than your widest piece of equipment or expected cargo. If you intend on using a yard ramp on a rail car, measure the car door opening to make sure the ramp will fit and is wide enough to prevent the forklift from hitting the curbs.

Determine if you need a stationary or portable ramp
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Determine if you need a stationary or portable ramp

For creating access from a loading dock to the ground, a stationary ramp is a solid choice because it will stay in place yet can be moved by a forklift if necessary. On the other hand, if you need to be able to load or unload a semi-trailer without a loading dock, consider a portable yard ramp instead because they are easier to maneuver into position or move from truck to truck. Usually portable ramps will have hydraulic lifts to accommodate different heights.

Decide if you need a ramp with a “level off” feature
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Decide if you need a ramp with a “level off” feature

When loading up a truck from the ground, a ramp with a level-off at the top is ideal because it allows your forklift to level off before entering the truck. Without a level-off, your load will enter at an angle which makes it more difficult to place.

 Safety Notes

When using a yard ramp on a truck trailer always make sure the truck is stopped, the wheels are chocked, and the safety chains are attached before using the ramp. If your yard ramp with level off has drop legs beneath the level off, the drop legs must be extended in order to reduce strain on the hydraulic pump.

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